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Equipment Discussions >> Mounts

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DaveJ
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5933003 - 06/21/13 01:28 PM

Quote:

I am with Rod... A-P is not midrange.




Depends on how you look at it. I've purchased many midrange mounts and have not been truly happy with any of them, yet I keep doing it! If I'd just bitten the bullet back at the beginning and bought a new Mach I (or AP900) as I wanted, I'd have the mount I'd love to own and use AND be money ahead. There's an old expression "I'm too poor to buy cheap" or something like that. It applies in my case.


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SteveGR
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Reged: 05/04/13

Loc: Western Michigan
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Jon Isaacs]
      #5938042 - 06/24/13 01:31 PM

It will be interesting the way Meade goes, I wonder how much the purchase will affect the product line and how quickly?

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rmollise
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: SteveGR]
      #5938270 - 06/24/13 03:57 PM

If AP could produce an HC with the go-to accuracy of the NexStar, I could be convinced. 10K still doesn't spell mid-range, though, not for most of us peons.

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Spacetravelerx
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5938293 - 06/24/13 04:13 PM

Quote:

If AP could produce an HC with the go-to accuracy of the NexStar, I could be convinced. 10K still doesn't spell mid-range, though, not for most of us peons.




Don't forget with Meade Starlock the go-to accuracy is spot on every time and the starting price there is $4500. Still pricey, but better than $10k. Of course the LX850 reaches the $10k price range too on the upper end.

The Lightswitch I understand also has excellent goto accuracy compared to the NexStar (heck, so does my LX200). So it can been done cheaper.

AP - yeah, that is not midrange at all.


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Spacetravelerx
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5938294 - 06/24/13 04:13 PM

Quote:

If AP could produce an HC with the go-to accuracy of the NexStar, I could be convinced. 10K still doesn't spell mid-range, though, not for most of us peons.




Don't forget with Meade Starlock the go-to accuracy is spot on every time and the starting price there is $4500. Still pricey, but better than $10k. Of course the LX850 reaches the $10k price range too on the upper end.

The Lightswitch I understand also has excellent goto accuracy compared to the NexStar (heck, so does my LX200). So it can been done cheaper.

AP - yeah, that is not midrange at all.


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WadeH237
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Reged: 02/24/07

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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5938342 - 06/24/13 04:38 PM

Quote:

The Lightswitch I understand also has excellent goto accuracy compared to the NexStar (heck, so does my LX200). So it can been done cheaper.




Better than AP, but only if your scope is not orthogonal (if your scope is orthogonal, AP goto is extremely accurate).

Better than NexStar? I've never heard that claim before. NexStar goto is fantastic.


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Starhawk
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Spacetravelerx]
      #5938349 - 06/24/13 04:44 PM

I'm not understanding what you are pricing in these numbers.

An LX850 is $6K at OPT. A Mach 1 GTO is $6.35k, and an AP 1100 is $8800.

What's the $4500 mount and what's the $10K mount?

-Rich


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Spacetravelerx
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: Starhawk]
      #5938436 - 06/24/13 05:46 PM

Quote:

I'm not understanding what you are pricing in these numbers.

An LX850 is $6K at OPT. A Mach 1 GTO is $6.35k, and an AP 1100 is $8800.

What's the $4500 mount and what's the $10K mount?

-Rich




Rich,

I should clarify since the Celestron Nexstar was referenced I was comparing also systems with mount and OTA.

- $4500 gets you a 10" LX600. This gives you high precision pointing via Starlock.
- $10k gets you 14" LX850. Yes, the LX850 alone is $6k.

LS series is of course cheaper.

The LX850 has several things the Mach 1 GTO does not have, so the price comparison is not valid at all and highly misleading. Features missing on the Mach 1 that LX850 has:
* Starlock, a dual observer guide system (no one has this yet - this is specific to observability and controllability). This of course also provides for OTA polar alignment including automatic drift alignment, AND HPP pointing. So more than just a guide scope.
* Mounting plate and mount adaptor (LX850 supports both Vixen AND Losmandy at the same time)
* GPS
* Counter weights
* Tripod
* Power supply (You need buy a power supply with Mach 1??!?!?!?)
* Serial cables
* Microfocuser
* Vibration pads

Also, you need Pempro with Mach 1; don't really it with the LX850. It appears you need a polar alignment scope with the Mach 1; you don't with the LX850. The Mach 1 goes well over $10k with no OTA very quickly when you add most of the features of the LX850. AP1100? Well over $12k with no OTA. Now, if you are satisfied with the Mach 1 as is with no tripod, guide system, counter weights, etc then party to the people I say!

Though the weather has not been nice for me and I am currently on travel, I have been so far very impressed with the LX850. Sufficiently impressed, that my business will be purchasing more Meade products in support of our research and directing others to do so on our team. Yeah, there is that buy out thing going on, but I am rather confident on that front.


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rmollise
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: WadeH237]
      #5938508 - 06/24/13 06:27 PM

Quote:



Better than AP, but only if your scope is not orthogonal (if your scope is orthogonal, AP goto is extremely accurate).




If you use an SCT, like I do, you can purty much bet you will be slightly less than orthogonal every time due to the moving mirror.


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5938772 - 06/24/13 09:50 PM

This "the Mach1 goes over $10K..." myth always pops up. And what riles me is that people believe this stuff, it ends up discouraging those who might be considering AP gear. It certainly discouraged me - until I did the math.

To add the (basic) stuff to a Mach1 like a saddle, counterweights, tripod, power supply.. will take it to about $7K (a Robin Casady saddle is $155, a couple 9SLCWT weights is $230.. pricey, or use the Meade LX80 weights for $30 a pop, which fit the Mach1 "thin" counterweight shaft).

The biggest cost there is the tripod, because AP's tripods are expensive (their cheapest is over $700). But as I've pointed out, an $80 Celestron Ultima tripod works without modification.

What else is missing.. a guide scope and stand-alone guider. A Lacerta MGEN is about $600. Even a pretty swanky guide scope is going to be less than $400. So figure $1K for that. Me, I already had a dirt-cheap Meade DSI and a 60mm f9 guide scope. You can guide a Mach1 through its serial port (cable supplied) so a GPUSB or similar isn't needed. You'll need serial port control anyway for pointing control. Yeah you'll need a USB to serial adapter ($15).

I don't imagine a GPS as being terribly useful, but the $130 StarGPS works with AP mounts.

We're still a long way from $10K...

Of course there are no Mach1's to be had till the next batch in 2014. I bought used, so I spent even less than the figures above suggest.

And.. although the Mach1 has far less payload (on paper) than the LX850, people successfully image with 10" RCs and C11's on it. I could argue that someone using a C11 would be in the same range as an LX850 user. Of course I am pretty sure a 14" would be beyond a Mach1's capacity.

As I've also noted previously, AP is much less expensive than Planewave, or Takahashi. And while they aren't exactly mid-range (except arguably the Mach1) they are in my experience a very good value. I would take one Mach1 over four CGEM's any day, for example. The money I spent on my (pre-Mach1) mount upgrade path, would have sufficed to buy one outright. So I ended up spending twice the money, and I now have extra mounts that I can't get rid of.


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Spacetravelerx
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Reged: 12/23/12

Loc: New Mexico
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5938842 - 06/24/13 10:35 PM

Quote:

This "the Mach1 goes over 10k..." always pops up.

Not really. To add the (basic) stuff to a Mach1 like a saddle, counterweights, tripod, power supply.. will take it to about $7K. The biggest cost there is the tripod, because AP's tripods are expensive. But as I've pointed out, an $80 Celestron Ultima tripod works without modification.

What else is missing.. a guide scope and stand-alone guider. A Lacerta MGEN is about $600. Even a pretty swanky guide scope is going to be less than $400. So figure $1K for that.

I don't imagine a GPS as being terribly useful, but the $130 StarGPS works with AP mounts.

We're still a long way from $10K...




True, one can go on the cheap with some items.

For example a cheaper tripod, though I have to believe folks who are dropping $6300 on the mount would not go cheap on the tripod. But I could see a couple of folks saving money just to get the mount.

Still you need the weights, mounting plates and such which all depend on the OTA. Of course if you want to match the LX850 feature to feature you will need a mounting plate sufficient to carry two OTAs to be fair.

And the guide scope combo you mention is not the same as Starlock. Maybe my question should be what is out there that provides for a "dual observer" control system? Will the systems you mention provide this? What software will you run to do this? Does these guiders provide HPP and automated drift alignment?

I know some folks prefer Manual drift alignment, but gosh, doesn't that take more time? I would hate to lose time doing VA, AP or visual stuff.

GPS can be useful - I turn on my mount and time and location is automatically calculated and used automatically in the alignment, et. al. process. Yes, I know, people prefer to manually enter it all in. More lost time, and more chance for error, but you never know about technology. Be scared of it. In my day we used a sextant for navigation too! Maybe we should use LORAN?

So lets see. AP Mach 1 - $6300. Less capable guide system, $1000, and missing features. PEMPro? $150 (you are doing AP, right?). Tripod - we are going cheap there, $80. GPS, $130. Mounting plates and attachments? $250. Counter weights? Mine came with 3 25lb SS weights. AP has them for $260 each, yikes! I guess though, you could cobble something together in a shop and go cheap there. $55 to $185 for the power supply, though you could ebay that item too.

So going cheap and cobbling together parts to make the AP Mach 1 doable you are still over $8300. But note a theme here - you spend a lot on the mount and go cheap and cobble it all together on the rest of the items. Seems awfully lame and silly after getting a great mount. In the LX850 - no cobbling, no going cheap. A great complete advanced system right out the gate. It is all there.

I am not saying the AP Mach 1 is bad. It is isn't. But it is certainly missing things I can get with the LX850, and hence why I chose the LX850 (and certainly why I chose the LX850 over the CGEPro). There is a market for the AP Mach 1, and you are also purchasing a personal relationship with a great team. It is similar to the fact that there is a market for the Questar, etc. This is fine. This is ok. It is just not what I was looking for, and I was looking for a more extensive feature set.

I can imagine there are a few folks who scrimp and save for the Mach 1 and cobble the rest together, but I bet top dollar most folks purchase everything they need through AP and/or their retailers and don't ask about the price. If you have to, you probably can't afford it as they say.

But still, I have not seen an Apples to Apples comparison.


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rmollise
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Reged: 07/06/07

Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5938847 - 06/24/13 10:41 PM

Quote:

This "the Mach1 goes over $10K..." myth always pops up.




OK...so...what 9K with everything from AP?

Edited by rmollise (06/24/13 10:43 PM)


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WadeH237
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Reged: 02/24/07

Loc: Snohomish, WA
Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: rmollise]
      #5938905 - 06/24/13 11:26 PM

Quote:

If you use an SCT, like I do, you can purty much bet you will be slightly less than orthogonal every time due to the moving mirror.




Sure, this is true.

My point is that AP gets a reputation for less-than-great goto performance based on the conventional wisdom amassed from threads like this. In reality, the mount's goto performance is really outstanding (I believe that it even accounts for refraction based on the target altitude).

It's a valid point to say that AP mounts are lacking a feature to account for non-orthogonality. What's missing from the conversation, though, is a discussion on the importance of these features.

Before I got my AP mount, I was a bit worried about pointing accuracy (and also on polar alignment, since AP doesn't have a routine like ASPA). It turns out that threads like this had me worried needlessly.

Consider this, and keep in mind that I am imaging with an SCT, moving mirror and all.

With the AP mount, and some extra tools, like a bubble level, local coordinates and accurate time, I can set up and polar align the mount during the day (using the bubble level to establish mount altitude and either the Sun or Moon to establish azimuth). While still broad daylight, I can initialize my automation software with an imaging plan, and then start setting up the CGE.

Once the CGE is set up, I wait for dark. Once I start seeing stars, I do the 2+4 alignment and ASPA. While this is going on, the automation software wakes up and starts the imaging routine on the AP with no further hands-on assistance.

For this to work, the AP goto has to put the initial target within 2 CCD fields in order for the first plate solve to work and sync the mount. This seems to happen pretty regularly with nothing more than the daytime polar alignment - and no multiple star alignment, like NexStar.

Don't get me wrong, I love my Celestron gear (and I have lots of it). I just hate to see the AP get a bad rap for goto performance, when it's just not a problem.


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: WadeH237]
      #5938915 - 06/24/13 11:33 PM

I would actually disagree that going with 3rd-party suppliers for AP gear is a "can't afford it" symptom. As DaveJ said above "I'm too poor to buy cheap" - I wish I had known that before buying a collection of less-expensive mounts.. (that added up to the price of a Mach1)

Robin Casady saddles are better than AP saddles. Ditto for his weights. Rob Miller tripods are better (and cheaper) than the AP equivalents. AP is not always the best for the rest of the bits - but they certainly get my money for the mount itself.

There are a lot of decent tripod choices that aren't $1000+ - a Losmandy G11 HD tripod works fine with the Mach1 - I didn't go there as the Losmandy tripod is too heavy for me. A Berlebach Uni or Planet, or a Geoptik Hercules. None of these tripods are "cheap" but they are very good (the Hercules has a 250lb payload and weighs 14lb, for example).

But then my payload is small, and the Celestron Ultima tripod works fine for it. So why even bother with an AP then.. because you can't get that level of performance (sub-arcsecond corrected PE and non-existent declination guiding issues) in any mount smaller than the Mach1.

One other issue (aside from all the Meade doom and gloom) is that the LX850 bare mount is extremely heavy (55# for the head alone, and I find the 40# CGEM head already at the limit of manageability).

Even if the 850 was $3000 and Meade was a billion-dollar company with healthy profits I wouldn't buy one, for that reason alone..


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? new [Re: orlyandico]
      #5938946 - 06/24/13 11:48 PM

... and this really goes back to the OP's topic.

What is a good "mid-range" mount?

If the Mach1 is not mid-range, then the LX850 is not mid-range, at $6K. If you consider the 850 to be mid-range, I would also submit that the Mach1, AP900, and PMX are arguably mid-range as well.. the PMX is $8K with everything except the tripod, so arguably a better deal than the AP900 or 1100.. except for that bothersome need for a PC.

Seems that there isn't any $2000 range mount with better mechanicals than the ubiquitous Atlas and CGEM. The iEQ45 is much lighter but based on what I've read and seen in my brief handling of a '45, it's not as well-constructed as the Atlas and CGEM.


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jrcrillyAdministrator
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? [Re: orlyandico]
      #5938966 - 06/25/13 12:02 AM

Quote:

Seems that there isn't any $2000 range mount with better mechanicals than the ubiquitous Atlas and CGEM.




Too true. The CGE's demise left a gap that has never been filled.


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? [Re: jrcrilly]
      #5938967 - 06/25/13 12:04 AM

Arguably, a CGE with modernized connectors (i.e. Bennett mod as "stock") would be a slam dunk.

But I also suspect Celestron wasn't making any money on them, which was why they were discontinued.


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jrcrillyAdministrator
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? [Re: orlyandico]
      #5938996 - 06/25/13 12:21 AM

Quote:

Arguably, a CGE with modernized connectors (i.e. Bennett mod as "stock") would be a slam dunk.




I'd be OK with the original connectors. I never had trouble with either of my CGE mounts (though I did spend $15 each replacing the cables with longer, more flexible ones). I'd demand a redesign of the tripod leg lock bolts, though. Both of mine jammed more than once, requiring a leg teardown to repair.


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orlyandico
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? [Re: jrcrilly]
      #5939003 - 06/25/13 12:27 AM

it's amazing though that Celestron would nickel-and-dime you on those connectors.

They save maybe $5 per connector by using RJ-45's instead of the twist-lock connectors that the Bennett mod and AP uses.

I have to admit, the reports here on CN about too-good-to-be-true periodic error from the iOptron AZ-EQ25 intrigue me.. for $700-ish it sounds like an interesting product. Now if only I could get rid of my boat anchor CGEM...

The new EQ8 also looks like a worthy offering, but its price is getting up there as well.. if we define "mid range" as under $3000, there's very little available from any manufacturer... which is probably why Losmandy owns this space.


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Spacetravelerx
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Re: What's the deal with Meade and GEMs? [Re: orlyandico]
      #5939007 - 06/25/13 12:33 AM

Quote:

I would actually disagree that going with 3rd-party suppliers for AP gear is a "can't afford it" symptom. As DaveJ said above "I'm too poor to buy cheap" - I wish I had known that before buying a collection of less-expensive mounts.. (that added up to the price of a Mach1)

Robin Casady saddles are better than AP saddles. Ditto for his weights. Rob Miller tripods are better (and cheaper) than the AP equivalents. And so on..

(too bad Rob Miller can't be contacted anymore, and Robin Casady is closing down his business)

In my case, the only part I skimped on was the tripod, as even a Rob Miller is $1000 plus (and that's cheaper than AP). A Losmandy G11 HD tripod works fine with the Mach1 - I would not consider it "skimping" but I didn't go there as the Losmandy tripod is too heavy for me. A Berlebach Uni is another option, or a Planet if the load requires it.

AP is not always the best for the rest of the bits - but they certainly get my money for the mount itself.

But then my payload is small, and the Celestron Ultima tripod works fine for it. So why even bother with an AP then.. because you can't get that level of performance (sub-arcsecond corrected PE and non-existent declination guiding issues) in any mount smaller than the Mach1.

One other issue (aside from all the Meade doom and gloom) is that the LX850 bare mount is extremely heavy. Even if it was $3000 and Meade was a billion-dollar company with healthy profits I wouldn't buy one, for that sole reason.





The point still is when I purchased my LX850 I did not have to look around to complete the kit. For the Mach 1 to reach the features of the LX850 I would indeed spend more - and still not have all the features of the LX850.

Yes, the LX850 is heavier than the Mach 1, but the LX850 weight spec also includes the mounting plate, OTA mounting mechanisms and DEC counter weight; the LX850 also has a 90 lb load capacity. I have loaded it over 70lbs with no problem already. I will be adding 10 more when I get home, so I will see how far I can go with this.

Is sub-arcsecond typical for you? Isn't this beyond the resolution of a pixel for a CCD camera used on, lets say, a C11? Does this spec matter? I can see this for the large telescopes and things I have worked on that have flown in space, but is this a typical requirement for the telescopes mounted on the Mach1? Is this requirement typical for the average APer?

I still contend the average configured Mach 1 is well above $6350. Which is not mid-range in price, even at the "entry level".

Anyways, on topic, Meade has a high end GEM, a great kit for a good price and great value - and not mid-range either! Yes, pricey, for most folks. Or in the price range, but wife will never approve of the purchase...

On the other end of the price range (and this WILL get the flames going ), I have seen lately very favorable comments on the LX80. Has something subtle changed in the design? I saw one a month ago, and I have to say I was very impressed with it and its price. And they do seem to be selling. This might be just below mid-range in price, but it seems to cover the 98% of the need out there (great goto's, 5 minute subs with guiding I hear, great for visual, mid-range size and mass of OTA) plus the very interesting dual OTA set-up (I can see this for outreach events). Only negative is that it is not an easy "grab and go", but everything is a compromise. I am about the pull the trigger on this unit and buy it, but I hear hints this might undergo a change. Then again, it seems fine as it is now.


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